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Osteoporosis Health Center

Women Need More Calcium, Say Experts

Even women with osteoporosis fail to get the bone-building benefits of calcium
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Humans Are Bad continued...

This study has hit the mark, Robert Lindsay of the National Osteoporosis Foundation tells WebMD. "The human race isn't very good about taking medicine. Americans aren't getting enough calcium from their diets and that is why physicians advise them to take calcium supplements."

It is especially important for women taking osteoporosis medication because without enough calcium, the medicine won't be as effective, says Lindsay.

"All the clinical trials showing the effectiveness of [osteoporosis drugs] were done in combination with women taking calcium supplements. However, in the real world, patients are taking the medication without the supplements."

Testing for Osteoporosis

A painless and accurate test can provide information about your bone health before problems begin. Bone mineral density (BMD) tests, or bone measurements, are X-rays that use very small amounts of radiation to determine bone strength.

Preventing Osteoporosis

There are a variety of ways you can protect yourself against osteoporosis, including:

  • Exercise. Weight-bearing exercises, done at least three to four times a week, are best for preventing osteoporosis. Walking, jogging, playing tennis, and dancing are all good weight-bearing exercises.
  • Eat foods high in calcium. Excellent sources of calcium are milk and dairy products (low-fat versions are recommended), canned fish with bones like salmon and sardines, dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, and broccoli, calcium-fortified orange juice, and breads made with calcium-fortified flour.
  • Supplements. Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are good forms of calcium supplements.
  • Vitamin D. Your body uses vitamin D to absorb calcium. Being out in the sun for 20 minutes every day helps most people's bodies make enough vitamin D. You can also get vitamin D from eggs, fatty fish like salmon, cereal and milk fortified with vitamin D, as well as from supplements. People aged 51 to 70 should get 400 IU each day, and those over age 70 should get 600 IU.
  • Other preventive steps. Limit alcohol consumption and do not smoke. Smoking causes your body to make less estrogen, which protects the bones. Too much alcohol can damage your bones and increase your risk of falling and breaking a bone.
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